Hankoff’s, Cougars’ run ends in elite eight
Adrian Hankoff’s collegiate volleyball career ended Saturday night in Gainsville, Fla, two games short of a Final Four appearance. But the former South Tahoe High standout will have many memories of her senior season.
Hankoff and the Washington State Cougars were eliminated by Florida three games to one in the NCAA Tournament East Regional championship.
Hankoff was selected to six-member East Region’s All-Tournament team along with teammates LaToya Harris and Victoria Prince.
The Cougars advanced to the regional finals with a three-game sweep of the East’s top seed Northern Iowa on Friday night.
Washington State looked poised for another upset against Florida, stealing the first game 30-27, but the taller Gators won the next three games convincingly, 30-19, 30-25 and 30-16.
“Florida picked up their pace a lot,” said WSU coach Cindy Fredrick. “In the second game they started tipping a lot of balls and that threw us out of the system a lot. And then it was like (Aury) Cruz decided it was time to start hammering the ball. I think she decided she was going to take over the match. When she did that, the rest of her teammates followed suit.”
Cruz, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, had 24 kills and 20 digs.
“We watched Florida (Friday night) and I don’t think they tipped one ball,” Hankoff said. “They are hard hitters and we weren’t really expecting it and it took us out of our game a little bit.
“Cruz’s tall, she gets up really high and she knew exactly where to put the ball.
In her final match, Hankoff had a team-high 17 kills, six digs, three blocks and two service aces. Six of Hankoff’s kills came in the first game, including one that moved the Cougars to game point at 29-27.
The Cougars’ five seniors, including Hankoff, finished their career with a 73-45 record. During that span the Cougars made three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Hankoff collected eight kills, eight digs and five blocks in the 31-29, 30-21 and 30-21 sweep of Northern Iowa on Friday.
Florida (34-2) advanced to play top-ranked USC in one semifinal on Thursday, while No. 2 seed Stanford meets sixth-seeded Hawaii.
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